CAPE TOWN - While the ANC in the Eastern Cape has become the latest to join their Limpopo and Northern Cape counterparts in backing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second-term ambitions, some ANC senior members have described the use of the party’s January 8 birthday celebrations to lobby for Ramaphosa, as a travesty that must be condemned.
The ANC heads into its 55th elective conference in December with widening factions, and for the first time in its history, without a secretary-general following the suspension of Ace Magashule last year.
Magashule, who is seen as Ramaphosa’s foe, did not attend the birthday celebrations and was seen along with NEC members Lindiwe Sisulu and Bathabile Dlamini at the funeral service of the late eMalahleni mayor Linah Malatjie, on Sunday.
Magashule, who received a warm reception, was hosted by the party's provincial secretary, Lindiwe Ntshalinyshali.
At the birthday celebrations Limpopo ANC chairperson and premier, Stan Matabatha used his address to be the first to endorse Ramaphosa for a second term, saying this would allow him to continue with the party’s much-hyped renewal programme – a move the party in the Northern Cape supported.
But ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni took to social media on Monday, lamenting the use of the party’s birthday celebrations for lobbying.
“January 8th is a sacrosanct ANC birthday,” he said. “A day when members not only celebrate but chart the way forward... For the first time it’s been defecated upon by senior ANC officials to launch their factional and personal 2022 campaigns.
“This political travesty must be condemned... Loudly.”
Asked for comment on their preferred candidate, Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyana, a Ramaphosa backer, said: “The ANC in the Eastern Cape has made it very clear that we continue to support Ramaphosa for another term in office.
“The mandate is clear and speaks to how Ramaphosa has led under very difficult conditions, but deserves our continued support as he led better over the past five years.
“A minimum of 10 years is best suited for Ramaphosa’s leadership, as five years is too little for any leader to see through proper implementation and would be best for political stability, public interest, social cohesion and nation-building as well.”
Independent Media understands that former ANC national treasurer Dr Zweli Mkhize is said to be hard at work garnering support for his presidential ambitions.
Mkhize’s name was mentioned ahead of the Nasrec elective conference in 2017, but he did not get enough numbers to challenge for the top position.
Party insiders said that since he stepped down as health minister last year, Mkhize has been hard at work convincing key players in different regions to back him.
“Come the nomination process you will then see how hard at work he has been. Remember, he was once the provincial chairperson so he knows KwaZulu-Natal in and out,” said one party insider.
Other party members in different regions, including eThekwini and Moses Mabhida, said that while Ramaphosa did not have outright support, the balance of forces were tilting in his favour because of the absence of a strong candidate to challenge him.
However, ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the governing party remained focused on holding regional conferences, adding that making pronouncements about the national elective conference was jumping the gun.
The ANC in the Free State, from where Magashule hails, appeared to be holding its cards close to the chest, saying the party in the province had not discussed the issue of national leadership and was dealing with the renewal of its structures.
The ANC in North West, which has since collapsed but is now led by a task team, did not have a position on the matter, also saying the process would have to be pronounced by the provincial executive committee, who are yet to be elected.
Ramaphosa had also received the backing of the Western Cape for his first term.
Provincial interim committee spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni would only say they supported the renewal project and efforts to unite the party, when approached for comment on Monday.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe and the party’s Gauteng spokesperson Bones Modise could not be reached for comment.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said Ramaphosa had nothing to show by way of the mandate received in the last conference.
“He has failed to deliver on each promise he made.
“Carefully read, the January 8 statement acknowledges as much. It is all public relations and no content.
These are likely to be observations that members will factor in as they consider potential candidates,” Seepe said.